Fun with thermochromics

A few months ago I travelled back in time (OK maybe a slight exaggeration) to discover the future; smart materials! Myself and Kirsty Stevens (another '14 Inker) were invited along to a pop-up workshop along with 3 other designer/makers attending in Duncan of Jordanstone within the textile design department; the new Smart Materials hub, set up by Sara Robertson. I 'd been in contact with Sara before about the possibilities of using heat-sensitive and light sensory dyes within my work, I wasn't too sure how to use them, what the constraints would be etc.

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We were introduced to the other makers and their work; two textile designers and one jeweller, fantastic designs and uses of the thermo and photochromic dyes. Really beautiful and interesting work itself;  for example Beth Spowart has been exploring fixing thermochromics permanently onto metal which is incredible (im not even sure if that's been done before!) and laser etching onto the metal afterwards in beautiful geometric patterns.

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Here are my practice attempts at applying the dyes onto little plaster models I cast from a 3D Print. These were carefully sprayed with an air gun and then dried with a hair dryer. The best way to 'fix' the dyes onto a surface is actually to bake them in a kiln/oven at 130c for 5 minutes. The plaster is pretty cold so the dye took quite a long time to change colour once touched; this is a learning curve though. This particular dye reacts to heat temp at 31c, the company that mixes these dyes can make it a specific temperature for you, hooray!

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This the air spray gun and Kirsty trying out samples in leather: amazing effects once dry!

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I had a go with a material called Buckram as well, a material normally used in millinery. This worked amazingly, possibly because it was a very light and 'warmer' material than say, the plaster.

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Thermochromic powders can be mixed into materials like silicone which wouldn't work particularly well with the liquid dyes (silicone is so temperamental) so I had a little experiment with a blue powder.

I've ordered some dyes to use in my exciting new collection, which will be at quite a low temperature so they'll be very sensitive when worn! Air spray gun has arrived, pieces are ready. To be continued!